By John Horton
Well, as they say, “Here we go, again.”
Just in recent days, “Marches” (demonstrations, protests and rallies) have been announced in response to Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States. Among these are: (1) Nationwide healthcare protests and rallies in favor of the Affordable Care Act, beginning January 15, 2017; (2) Filmmaker Michael Moore, actors Mark Ruffalo, Alec Baldwin, and other “celebrities” will be holding a massive demonstration and rally in front of Trump International Hotel, January 19, 2017, against Trump’s election; (3) Women’s March on Washington, supporting women’s and minorities’ rights, January 21, 2017.
As aforementioned, there are “Marches” in major cities and metropolitan areas protesting President-Elect Donald Trump. It has been reported that many of these so-call “Millennials” and protestors did not bother to vote, voted for third party candidates and/or voted for write-in candidates. If any of these actions were taken, I feel strongly that the right to “protest” the election of Trump as president is misguided. Let me be perfectly clear, I voted for Hillary Clinton and a straight democratic ticket. I/we “lost” this particular election. Now, “we” should suck it up, and abide by the election results. For now, there is no reason to “protest,” especially if there were no efforts or actions taken to cast a vote for Clinton, whom some seem to be protesting in favor of. It is now too late. And, for now, maybe a “lesson well learned.”
Again, I find that many of our leaders, influencers and advocates are promulgating “Marches” as the answer and resolution to our myriad of societal issues…especially those that pertain to our children, families, communities, schools, and the nation as a whole. Many of these “Marches” are the culmination of grass roots activism and (mostly) black leadership to get the ball rolling in order to address the various crucial needs and shortcomings in the black community.
Recently the 20th anniversary of the “Million Man March” was observed in the National Mall in Washington, D. C., on October 10, 2015. The theme of this anniversary “March” was “Justice or Else.” Supposedly, it emphasized economical, political and civil rights for African Americans and other oppressed groups. Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam and the organizer of the 1995 MMM, had been touring the nation soliciting support for this event.
Also, back on July 31, 2015, the NAACP, via Cornel Brooks, president and CEO, announced plans for an organized “March” to raise awareness for social justice. This “March” took place from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D. C., approximately 860 miles, from August 1 to September 15, 2015.
Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the “Million Man March,” “Million Woman March,” “Million Youth March,” “Million Mom March,” “Redeem the Dream March,” “Million Family March,” and the like. While “Marches” are highly symbolic and can be galvanizing, I now say it is high time to roll up our sleeves and “go to work” if we are to get the job done. As Frederick Douglas so eloquently stated over 125 years ago, “…A people may not get all that they pay for, but they must certainly pay for all that they get.” This is especially compelling for African Americans and their present day social, political and economic woes.
Marches. demonstrations, protests, sit-ins, and gatherings will fall short and eventually lose their meaning and effectiveness if we fail to do the “hard and smart work” that lies ahead for us to truly overcome our shortcomings and deficiencies. We must clearly understand that these “Marches” are only the preliminaries for what needs to be done. The lower portion of the iceberg lies before us, and we must figure out how to safely and competently navigate around it.
There are some debilitating predicaments that face us as we head into the 21st century. Many of these struggles and challenges will be centered around the cornerstones of familial, social, political and economical amelioration. Simply put, we must learn how to coalesce and compete as we move forward into the new millennium. As Paul Robeson saliently stated over 50 years ago, “We cannot expect others to do those things that we should do for ourselves….”
In that regard, I offer some basic advice and viable suggestions. Admittedly, it will not be an easy task, but it can be done. However, it will take immense self-discipline, tenacity, persistence and lots of hard and smart work.
First, parents and other adults have to accept collective responsibility for making a positive difference in the lives of their children and communities. Others – schools, agencies, organizations, governments, etc. – cannot “make it happen” for us, if we do not want to “make it happen” for ourselves.
Second, to empower our families and communities, our children must learn to be(come) successful in school. This achievable feat has three basic components: (1) attend school daily; (2) behave properly; and (3) do the work (classroom and homework). This will require significant parental involvement, for the school, alone, cannot do this for our children.
Third, as many leaders, influencers and advocates have been saying all along, our youth must learn to practice self-discipline and prioritize their goals in life: (1) finish at least high school; (2) get a job(s); and (3) become adults and get married before having a family.
Fourth, As adults and parents, we must vow that not another generation of black children will live in communities of poverty, ignorance, violence, apathy and abuse. We must give our children a safe, sound and stable environment in which to grow and flourish. Otherwise, we will have betrayed them and ourselves with broken promises and unfulfilled futures.
If as a cohesive and competitive people, we begin to instill these kinds of values and priorities, then all the “Marches” will not have been in vain. There will have been “substance,” as well as “symbolism,” especially when the spotlight has been turned off and the crowd has gone. It will have been well worth the effort, time and expense. The “messages of the Marches” will have reached home. For, it is now time to get the job done for our children, families, communities, schools…and the nation as a whole.
Enough marching. It is now time for persistent action, determined commitment, indefatigable effort and productive results. If it is to be, we have to do this.